by Jack Minor –
Many parents who went to drop their children off at school today were surprised to learn that District 6 had cancelled classes on Tuesday.
At around 5 AM District officials made the decision to cancel classes because of the extreme cold, winds and blowing snow. District policy requires a decision to be made by 6 AM. When announcing closures, the district posts the announcement on their website and Facebook pages. Additionally, announcements are sent out to local media, Denver media and staff. Announcements locally were made on Pirate Radio 104.7 FM.
However, many parents did not think to check local media or the district website to see whether their child’s school was closed.
This was understandable since a glance outside revealed very little snowfall last night. In fact, there have been days the district held classes with far greater snowfall then this morning. However, for those walking to school the sidewalks, while relatively clear of snow, were quite icy.
Because of this, many parents drove their children to school expecting to drop them off for class like any other day. At Scott Elementary School approximately 50 vehicles came by the school to be dropped off only to be told by a volunteer that classes were cancelled. Principal Lazlo Hunt said he was at the school taking phone calls and received multiple calls in the morning from parents unsure about whether classes were being held or not.
“When the district told me classes were cancelled, I looked outside and realized we would have parents calling to see if we had school today,” Hunt said.
“While we realize that might have inconvenienced some parents, it is a decision we do not take lightly, ever,” Theresa Myers, District 6 Communications Director said. “We knew the forecast said the snow would continue throughout the day and we didn’t want to get into a situation where kids might be able to get there safely, but have a difficult time getting home.”
Myers explained that another factor were school parking lots and sidewalks which were icy and could potentially result in injuries for children walking into the school and around school property.
“Because of the high winds and drifting snow, our facility crews were unable to clear sidewalks or parking lots, making it even more unsafe for our students and staff. We do try to make the decision as early as possible, but it’s even more essential that we make the correct decision whenever possible.”
While some parents might be frustrated because the weather didn’t appear to be bad enough for them to check the website, Myers said she can appreciate why parents may not have thought to check for closures, but ultimately there is only so much the district can do.
“We do not have the capability to email all parents district-wide, nor do we have the capacity to mass call parents,” Myers explained. “We know there will be some parents who don’t get the announcement, no matter what we do. That is why we require principals to go to the school and make sure the kids who show up are taken care of.”